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Social policy to elevate consciousness: The Ray Rice lesson

In my blog, I discuss several important social policy issues that have resulted in unintended consequences and that bias is one of the biggest deterrents to getting it right when creating social policy.

Bias is difficult to see because it creates a blind spot for the gazer.

Social policy planners have bias, the question is always: is their bias right or is it missing an important detail?

A more useful application of the sociological information about power and community is to create a space wherein the participant can sort through the answer though mindfulness and critical thinking.  

Educating students on how to think, how to use their brains to think through a problem,

deduction rather than just come up with the answer the professor determines true, in a Sherlock Holmsian style of clarity and mindfulness would allow for continued consciousness elevation for the entire community of human beings, and ultimately the planet.

  • When you are looking at a social issue use a multi-layer lens.  This is to say, look at it from the perspective of what has created the problem…there will be underlying sociological archetypes that are driving the situation.  Usually it will require you make serious efforts to understand your own bias, the driver of your bias, and the competing paradigms underlying the social issue.

These competing paradigms are usually a conflict between group and individual rights and a change in the societal mores and norms that are shifting.

The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 and the Child Abuse Act of 1974,2010 seem to have fared better than the above examples.

The Indian Child Welfare Act (1978) was originally set in place in response to several things, the high incidence of children leaving the reservations and being raised in non-Indian homes which led to a high incidence of depression and suicide as the children reached adolescence (far greater than those children adopted who were from non-indian families).

This appeared to be a cultural issue as well as a psychosocial developmental issue.  In addition, there was concern from the Native American community that the Native American culture was being decimated by the loss of their children to carry it onward.

There were problems in dealing with how a child was identified as Indian, in that various tribes had differentpercentages of Native blood or connection to a tribal roll as ways to identify a being as Native American. As time went on it also became an issue if the child had never been a part of the Native Community (1982) especially if the parents had not actually lived in the Native Community in their own upbringing.

However, the intended consequences were met positively, due to this act the incidence of suicide by Native American children in early adolescence decreased dramatically, and far more Native American children were endowed with their cultural heritage.

Let’s look at a specific social issue in the news now. 

Ray Rice and the video exposing, his domestic violent interaction with his wife.  

  • Both parties say this is a one time event.
  • Overall, the cultural stance is to say that domestic violence is not okay…
  • Yet the reaction from the community has been to lightly or barely condemn Mr. Rice.
  • Why is this: what are the underlying social issues in play?
  • Mrs. Rice did not want the video to be in the public eye and does not want to address the violence.
  • There are individuals who blame Mrs. Rice for remaining with him.
  • There are individuals who say it is a private issue not a social policy issue.
  • Additionally, he reports that it was a result of his drinking.
  • And there are individuals who diminish this as domestic violence because she attacked him first.

First off, what I see is that from a familial and cultural perspective, his fame and the money he can make for his team (and family) outweighs the reaction of disgust for his behavior.  This is a cost/benefit ratio response from the family and team.  They are not looking at the social ramifications of dismissing it as important or how that kind of inattention leads to increased violence and solidifies the acceptance of violence.

The cultural bias that is behind these statements shows how the culture is struggling to have a strong response to domestic violence:

  • He was drinking:  so it’s not his fault. The alcohol changed his behavior and made him act the way he did.  She attacked him first:  so it’s not his fault.  Or another take on it is if she is going to hit him she elevates her position and therefore has to take being hit back.  Or it was an automatic reaction on his part that he could not stop, due to his training as an aggressive football player.
  • These two positions are supported by the community within which he lives. Drinking frees one to act in an uninhibited way without having to take any consequences.  This belief is further supported by the fact that alcoholism is actually a medical problem — but it is a social problem too.  Any substance that changes your brain can have a positive or negative effect.
  • Physical fighting has been on the rise between adolescent girls and young women…it is seen in movies, made into a spectator event – think professional fighter Ayla Ali, which shifts the onus of responsibility away from the man to not be provoked when hit by a woman.

There is inconsistency of thought regarding whether to protect and care for women and children in the culture at this time.  That is why this has become such a hot issue with such divergent responses, reactions.

This is a power issue.

Men have lost some of their power in the community through the increase in power given to women, to compete for the same positions men hold, to get higher education and to choose to not depend on men.  With the disintegration of gender roles it can feel to men as if women are getting everything and men nothing.  Even women are not consistent in their behavior and thinking in this regard.

This is a tipping point for our culture, whether to actually protect women (and children).  How to create a consistency of thought regarding healthy relationships, whether to actually discipline inappropriate behavior, and how to educate people about conscious relationships that are not based in a power-over mentality.

I am most disturbed by what I observed in the video after the punch to the face….The piece that is disturbing to me is trifold.  He showed no remorse for the fact that his fiance was lying unconscious on the floor, additionally he showed no care toward how he removed her from the elevator, leaving her legs partially over the door threshold so that she might be hit by the door as it closed…

…and then this is the part that I saw which bothered me the most and most clearly belied any of the kind attributions toward Mr Rice…just after he dragged his fiance out of the elevator, while she was unconscious, lying helpless on the floor he kicked his foot at her leg, kicking her leg… this act of kicking an unconscious person is the act of a coward, a bully; he was no longer protecting himself –his kicking an unconscious person as if she were garbage showed his true hateful nature. This indicates the worst form of domestic violence, the kind that derives from a deep lack of caring for another human being.

Not one media commentator has identified this.

I did see it and from my perspective this is a view into his true psyche and inner perspective of the world. It gives a view into his inner nature or inner consciousness.  This action is not from the alcohol.  This is not a function of self-defense. This is not a result of losing control of his temper and reacting automatically. This is cold, uncaring, with a lack of empathy or compassionate connection to the person he just kicked.  This is a violent action within a domestic relationship.

Educating individuals about the importance of managing power in relationship is a first step.

Destigmatizing the way that power gets expressed while simultaneously challenging beliefs that support power-over structures would be the first step toward changing the cultural reinforcement of domestic violence.

Ray Rice is heralded in a positive light for his aggression on the football field.  The cold, uncaring, aggressive, warrior focus that created his success is exactly what is driving the violent action in his relationship.

Applying mindfulness to how you address his action will help to define a way that will align the concerns of the community and his identified desire to change his behavior.

A social policy that does not take into account the multi-layer aspects of social behavior, the intersection of a person’s sociological Fabric of group connections, personal experiences, and location in time will create unintended consequences.

On the face of it, his behavior is violent and needs to be called out, the crisis for the community is HOW to respond to uplevel the conversation to elevate our compassionate, conscious interaction with each other in society.

This is especially true since society is telegraphing acceptable behaviors to youth.

The etiology of domestic violence is in childhood.  What the person observes in the relationships of his or her caregivers as well as what happens to him/her.  Does s/he experience compassion, or heartlessness?  Is the definition of discipline punishment or critical, conscious education of natural and logical consequences, so that s/he can develop a sense of inner strength, resilience, and overall understanding of personal and cultural reponsibility?

In this way domestic violence is driven by earlier experiences of child abuse and neglect.

Social policy must start in a consolidated, comprehensive way in both the adult relationship and parenting discipline communities because without changing both, BOTH will continue.  They may take on different terms, harassment, abuse, bullying etc. These are all forms of the misuse and misunderstanding of power in relationships.

Let us start here and now with these young men in the news who area struggling with the negative effects of their heritage and what they have perceived as valuable in their childhood experiences.

Using mindfulness in how we respond to them will set the society on the path to mindful relationship where the abuse of power is diminished. In love and light, bg

You can find out more at Beth’s upcoming book, 6 steps to transcending conflict and elevating consciousness, due out in 2014 offers special techniques for releasing unresolved injuries…and the elevation of consciousness.

front cover.me2weYou may participate in seminars to learn these techniques through the bethgineris website. Beth’s groundbreaking book Turning Me to WE: The Art of Partnering with Mindfulness(2013), has some great tools about Temperament style and your personal style of partnering, as well as the insecurity Drivers MAAPS.front cover.me2we Discover where you are in the Temperament and the MAAPS section. You can see how you see the world, and whether you have an attachment that is creating problems in your relationships. MAAPS will help you to discern your insecurities and understand how and what underlies how you developed your insecurity driver (Money, Achievement, Attachment, Power, Structure).

You can find ways to simply connect to yourself in a loving forgiving way through theTurning No to ON: The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness Book (2011). beth’s book No to ON.beth's book No to ON

If you want to change your life, see how you can bring mindfulness to your parenting and relationships.
One being at a time you can elevate the way in which you treat one another and elevate the consciousness on the planet so that equality, balance, and freedom BEcome the norm for all. in love and light, bg


Anti-oxidant living: Choose a path that brings you joy, in every interaction

Hello and Welcome.

Anger, fear, discouragement, and insecurity have oxidative properties to your spirit, mind and body.  When you choose a path that brings you strength, empowerment, joy, and confidence you are creating anti-oxidant properties that regenerate your cells, your thinking power, and your spiritual health.

This is a natural outcome of mindfulness and mindful meditation, focused breathwork, and heart or breath-led yoga practice.

I have a neighbor who cannot let go of any perceived injury.  She plots and plans to get back at any individual who in her mind has ‘injured’ her.  These perceived injuries feel very painful to her.  Her face carries the look of a person who has been in battle for many years; deep furrows between her brows as if in a perpetual frown, loose skin that has deep furrows around her mouth make her look as if she is angry when she is at rest.  Strangely, or perhaps understandably because she is always looking for injury, she has difficulty with any service professional who comes into her home… either she feels they are cheating her or they overcharge her or they do not correctly complete every job assigned.  This spills off onto the constant negative, fearful energy of her constantly, fearfully barking tiny dog who seems to be in a constant panic attack.  This woman actually has a great deal of prosperity in her life which she appears to not receive any comfort from.  She owns her home and another rental (of course her tenants are always taking advantage of her from her perspective), has a good job and a nice retirement pension coming her way…. yet she is not happy – she is rich in things but poor in her sense of wealth and her style of relating in the world.

This is an example of how the oxidative energy of vengefulness, anger, and dissatisfaction are wearing away at her wellbeing.  She cannot experience the comfort she actually has, and her face and body show the signs of advanced aging so that she looks older than her years.  Even when she chooses to smile the anger and dissatisfaction comes through.

This kind of energy so close to my own home can be destabilizing.  It can spill off onto my space and my interactions.  The first step in dealing with such a being is to remember that defensiveness ties you into the negative path, so use the verbal aikido methods of deflection of the tone and negative behavior, deflation of the negative energy, and then definition of how you desire to act regardless of her actions.  This is choosing the path that brings you joy

Regardless of another’s choice you are free to choose your own way.  If another indeed is harming you or injuring you with his or her actions, taking a step to set it right is good.  Do so with a lack of vengefulness or anger in your ideation, intention, and action.  This will keep your cells vibrant, your face and voice and heart glowing and bring prosperity to you.  This is healthy living and results in vibrant health in your spirit,mind, and body.

If you have been drawn in to a difficult relationship.  Give yourself a chance to re-choose and to set your intention on this joyful path.

You can always choose a different path, a different response.
Consider this if you are feeling discouraged with previous choices which turned out less than well…
When are able to act in this loving responsible way, even saying you’re sorry when you make a mistake and resetting your plan, you teach your children to be resilient, flexible and truly responsible… and you build your own inner resilience.

Choose this anti-oxidant style of living in every interaction and you will see the positive results in your health and wealth… you may even be able to turn back the hands of time in how you are aging.  Namaste, in love and light, bg

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Poetic Experiences of Motherhood

Hello and Welcome.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share two  poetic experiences of motherhood for me.

Max and Beautiful Alien (kate).  I am so lucky to understand the world of mother  through Birthing and Grafting to my family tree… These beings filling my mothering world with joy, challenge, and satisfaction.


Secretly, I want to hold you here

Keep you right here with me

Never let you go.

I want this moment to be held in time.

This perfect moment,

When my dreams come true in a kaleidoscope of joy.


my whole life Before I knew you,

Before I knew myself really;

I have been waiting this whole time to hear you call me MOM

And now this moment has happened.

This joy, so profound, I don’t want to let go.

I don’t want the next moment to come.

I want time —————– Suspended.

Perfection transforms into the mundane.

The miracle

creates a new world;

opens a reality that changes everything;

Creates it’s own time-suspension through transformation.

what was

no longer


Joy like an inner smile, constantly warming me, knows only the new world.

What we created transformed us both;

Birthed us each anew

to this perfect brave new world.

beth gineris

Beautiful Alien 

(kate mary sophia)

This being in my belly grows

She consumes my energy

Transforming each molecule into her growth

I am struck by her sheer, survivalistic nature


just taking what she needs to grow.

As for me I graciously give, in a protective, one-minded sort of way,

Through a deep feeling of care and maternalistic nature

Dissociating myself from my own needs in order to first meet hers.

Thank god for the chemicals in my brain that endear her to me

Without that, my body might dispose of her, interpret her a parasite…

Like a caterpillar engorging himself with each green life he touches

Building energy to transform

So does she devour whatever energy available, taking from my reserve if necessary

This process of development is deeply ingrained in my being

Stored in the center of each cell

Awakened by the first want of her

Never to be extinguished.

Her conception

Creates me as the chrysalis,

transforming not just one being but two.

I now understand the plight of the caterpillar driven forward

Toward his destiny of metamorphosis.

I too feel the hardening of the walls

The change looming

Until I am someone

Not previously here…

Forever changed into Mother

Never to be the other again.

beth gineris

What fun to mark mother’s day with remembrance of the power of caring, and the inter-transformational effect of mother and child….write a poem for yourself to mark the beauty of your relationship either with your mother or your child; this exercise can shift your perspective positively. In love and light, Namaste, bg


5 steps to Healing psychological Wounds

Hello and Welcome!

Injuries heal through a set of layers and this occurs most fully and rapidly through these five steps.  The most important step being cleaning out the deterrents to healing.

Here using a focus on physical wounds:

  1. Evaluation of severity, depth, breadth, need for sutures, casting and bandaging.
  2. Cleaning the wound of fragments, foreign objects, dirt, and deterrents to healing – debridement.
  3. Careful observation and compassionate tending to the healing progress of the wound.
  4. Re-evaluation of the development in healing, re-cleaning, debridement, re-dressing the wound.
  5. A loving compassionate reintroduction of the use of the wounded area to avoid re-injury or trauma

The course for wound healing seems to take one of two branches.  One branch leads to further, deeper injury through infection and invasion into deeper systems.  The other offers a fuller evaluation at the fore to prevent a deeper infestation.

It is seductive to follow the first branch described – it is less work at the beginning and looks as if healing happens more quickly.  However this route results in a quick fix.  The rapid scabbing process covers a deeper problem that can result in an underlying infection and a resulting scar that stares-out at each person who passes, almost calling the passers-by to comment, and in some cases re-injuring the person.

The second route is more intensive at the front-end, however, once through the difficult evaluation and debridement process, and with proper attention to the complete healing process, this route results in an almost imperceptible scar.

Wound healing takes this same branched course for physical and psychological scars.

For psychological wounds forgiveness is an intricate component of the healing process.  The forgiveness has to be sincere, real, felt deeply, and thoroughly experienced.  From that whole-space, forgiveness can create an inner healing that results in an imperceptible scar.

  1. and 2. are interrelated for psychological injuries.  This is to say the process of evaluation of the injury, and the debridement work together – debridement is the process of removing foreign material and dead tissue from a physical wound to prevent infection and promote healing – debridement, then, with respect to a psychological wound requires mindfully releasing anger, vengefulness, and hate – and utilizes compassion, lovingkindness, and forgiveness.

A short-cut through the forgiveness stage results in an incomplete healing, a superficial covering.  This is when an individual chooses to transect the process without looking mindfully at the wounding experience.  This is a false covering-over, which allows for infection – underneath a festering will develop at an unconscious or conscious level which will interfere with a full healing of the wound.  This may result in deeper injury to spirit, mind and body or ultimately burst open in rage, shame and vengefulness, creating a crater of a scar that is seen in all your relationships.

If you use the tangible concept of a physical wound to guide you,

  • you can see the first thing required is to clean the wound…get out the dirt, the left over shards so that the wound is ready to create a healing scab. This washing process can sting, be painful, sharp, or uncomfortable.

From a psychological wound perspective the first step is the same,

  • clean out the wound, remove shards, that are going to impede healing or increase a chance for infection – this requires compassionate understanding and forgiveness, mindfulness, and paradigm shifting.  Wounds are often a result of a lack of understanding, a lack of restraint, or a placement of trust toward an untrustworthy person.  Going within to do the inner work required for this can be hurtful, sharp, or uncomfortable just like washing out a cut stings.

Forgiveness is tricky when you perceive that forgiveness makes the action that was harmful “okay”.  The trick to forgiveness is shifting paradigmatic perceptions and righting your own power in a given situation.  Forgiveness is letting go of the power the wounding has over you while simultaneously identifying what was harmful and what to avoid in the future – including the relationship or event in which the wounding occurred.

A common style of dealing with hurts is to remove yourself from the profound feelings that are attached to the pain you endured.  This keeps you stuck in the past.  This disallows forgiveness or creates unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness leads to a diminishing of your personal power, a rigid world-view, and a truncated personality in relationship.  It leads to the opposite of mindfulness and the opposite of empowerment.

  • In order to forgive, that pain must be felt
  • and then a resolution, an understanding, a paradigm shift needs to take place to allow the unlinking of the pain of the event; the event and the actor;  and the outcome of the event
  • so that it can be put into proper perspective and into your past,
  • freeing you to move on into the present moment of your life – a new stance in the world, strengthened via the complete healing of the wound.

To forgive another a deeply painful act, betrayal, or action is difficult.  To see, and accept responsibility for, how you have hurt another is also difficult.

Choosing to face this difficult task will allow for a real shift to take place, a full and complete healing that leaves an imperceptible scar, the mindful/spirit-filled inner search (evaluation and debridement) is paramount.  This action can result in transforming events, healing your wound and transforming your relationships.

How do you forgive someone for that act which in your mind changed you forever, that betrayed your trust or your sense of innocence?

Finding forgiveness requires grace.  It requires a willingness to let go of the thing that may define your stance in the world. It is fraught with deep feeling and an inner journey to your center.  Certainly paradigm shifting, figure/ground perspective, and the attitude of gratitude are helpful activities.  This set of actions is required to fully heal a psychological wound.

Mindfulness allows you to see a way to unlink the act and the person; the act and the circumstances surrounding the act; and the intention and the action.  And from this space forgiveness is possible and profoundly healing.

Severe wounds are difficult betrayals and experiences to transcend,  difficult to get to forgiveness even with these unlinkings, increased awareness and increased perspective. The process of debridement is most useful in this situation.

Healing your psychological wounds requires loving attention and compassion first toward yourself and then toward the cause of the wound.  Not unlike the treatment of a physical wound what matters is the healing of the injury and then release of anger, and vengefulness toward the cause of the wound.

Healing is me-first.  Not narcissistic or selfish but inner directed, looking inward to promote inner healing and release of the power of the wound over your future life choices.  This is true for physical and psychological wounds.  Allowing an injury to define you sets power where it does not belong.  Set your empowerment within, release the material that interferes with your full and complete healing so that the injury itself becomes love and light, beth


Model critical thinking, eschew propaganda

Hello and Welcome!

Having a long history in the study of human behavior I am intimately aware of the strong urge and pull toward following the group.  Simply observing toddlers in preschool, young children in elementary school or witnessing the popular movement of music, clothing, and behavior of high school and young adulthood results in the observation that the in-group in society telegraphs to the human psyche how to be, what to think, who to follow and what will keep you in the clique.

This is built into the developmental structure of humans.

This draw to follow the group mind and to be inculcated into belief systems is the basis of societal strength.  Unfortunately it can become the downfall of society over time and can become a tool to control people without their overt knowledge.

In the 1960’s psychologists studied university students to discover if an individual will follow the group and conform under various conditions.  It was called the Asch Experiment (Wikipedia).   And what they found was that when students were presented with a group of peers who offered the incorrect response they conformed to answer with the incorrect answer 75% of the time for at least one answer.

Also in the 1960’s psychologists studied whether a person would act against his or her own inner sense that something was wrong when told by an authority person or person in a position of power  that it was necessary to act in this way against that subject’s inner sense that something was wrong.  This was called the Milgram Experiment (Wikipedia).  This study’s results provided serious information that seemingly “good people” with reasonable skills to evaluate the serious negative effects of an act would still follow through with causing harm to another person when told by an authority person (person in a position of power) that it was necessary and deferred responses to the effects of their actions.

The best way to avoid this is to use critical thinking in all of your decision-making.  Critical thinking questions the basis of your belief systems and the underpinnings of powerful people’s opinions and positions.  Rather then saying I agree with that icon, hero, politician, or cool person, critical thinking encourages an inner dialogue that questions why do I agree and what does that statement, philosophy, or belief system mean down and up-stream.  This increases an individual’s chance to be congruent in his beliefs and it increases the specific individual freedom and empowerment that person can experience in his life course and development.

What is popular is not always what is best for a society.  How those in power get their message out is a through subtle coercion.  All groups have rules of inclusion and exclusion.  The human goal is to feel included, liked, accepted and specifically to be part of the cool in-group.

A great tool is to pay attention when you feel you are being pulled along a flow toward something as if it is the only answer and that feeling is a pressure from the outside, cool in-group, not from an internal sense of knowing from within.  This is a cue that you are caught up in something that may have propaganda in it.

When individuals become overly stressed or lack critical thinking they accept propaganda as truth, swallowing it whole.  This is a shortcut due to stress or due to an unearned trust toward the group or those in power, thinking thay are indeed going to direct the society to the society as a whole‘s best interest.

Sociological theory and psychological theory, both, have shown that under various conditions those in power want to maintain that power.  Power is the means to make money.   The place wherein there is little critical thinking with respect to how groups are using propaganda to promote their money-making opportunities is through marketing, media, and what is cool.

The best response to your environment is to use your own critical thinking skills to evaluate the truth of what is being said.  Examine how you know it is true, without accepting whole what someone says whom you perceive as a guru, leader, hero, or cool person.

There is power in being famous, this is related to the latent pull to follow the leader of the group.  Following what a famous person says or does gives your psyche the sense that you are somehow connected to them, which feeds that hidden inner pull to conform and align with the group.

This is precisely the process that allows for odd or different children to be bullied in school.  The cool person or the person perceived to have power, is followed, rather than an individual standing up and saying that it is wrong,  or simply standing with the odd or different child.  The latent quiet allowing of maltreatment for fear that the maltreatment may be directed at yourself is a way the in-group wields control.

There is a small set of individuals who choose to go outside of the norm.  Sometimes this is someone who is following his inner sense of what is right.  This small set of individuals can stem the flow of the propaganda.  There is risk to this individual as he is often attacked.  The first response of a powerful in-group toward this individual is to focus a spotlight on this set of individuals, to discredit them, and to divide and conquer the opportunity for like-minded people to collaborate or simply dialogue about other ways to behave.

Your critical thinking skills can best guide you.  And the more you use these and model to your child their use, the more your child will use these.  It is in this way that bullying, subtle power coercion, control through group-mind, and propaganda will be extinguished.

Innovation is a natural by-product of critical thinking.  It comes as a result of questioning:

  • is that statement true?
  • how do I know the belief or statement is true from my own experience?
  • and what is the other side’s argument and how is it true?
  • what might be the reward for the person in power to deny the truth?
  • what is wrong with a statement or belief?
  • or what needs to be changed in a situation or environment?

Critical thinking is mindfulness.

The force through which someone states a thing is not truth.  Truth is.  And truth can be felt as an internal alignment – not in the agreement to the belief – but in an integration of the truth of all the positions and how that truth lines up.  It is an internal heart sense and has a lightness to it not a loud booming voice.  The latter is just a technique of coercion.  The more punch and loudness in the argument the less critical thinking.

Critical thinking allows for the truth of all the sides to be accepted and incorporated into the solution or belief system.

  • Subjectivity is loud, forceful, emotional, and pulls to accept, it blocks mindfulness and the critical evaluation of all sides.
  • Objectivity is quiet, light, and non-emotional, it has an opening to reveal the truth of all sides.

Discover your truth through critical thinking and mindfulness.  Model this behavior and thinking style for your children.  This will result in bringing to light propaganda so that real solutions can be found to the difficult problems facing love and light, beth

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Mindfulness more useful in Parenting – Recent Canadian 20 year study identifies strong relationship between spanking and aggressive behavior


There has been a lot of research regarding the effects of disciplining children with physical punishment and spanking.  These studies have been conducted since 1990 and have consistently indicated negative results for this style of discipline especially an increase in aggressive and antisocial behavior on the part of the spanked child, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012).

Proponents of spanking as a form of discipline argue against this relationship  indicating that the children who need to be spanked or physically punished are already more aggressive and so this explains the connection between increased aggression in children who are spanked.

This recent study in the  Canadian Medical Association Journal spanning over twenty years controlled for this issue precisely and addressed the issue of causality.  The study followed children who were physically punished as a form of discipline and children who were not.

The study shows that children who are physically punished get more aggressive over time and those that are not physically punished get less aggressive over time.  Furthermore, it looked at studies where parents that were taught to change their methods from physical punishment to non-violent methods of discipline saw a decline in aggressive behavior in their children, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).

What is also good about this study is it looks at “everyday” acts of aggression so it is addressing the kind of physical punishment that is most common and it links these with increased aggression over time.

It also showed that those children that are spanked or hit are more likely to be aggressive toward family members or peers and exhibit other antisocial behavior.

The study’s analysis shows that there are short-term benefits to spanking, as it stops the unwanted behavior for the immediate situation; But these short-term benefits are at the cost of some very negative long-term effects.  It is linked to an increase in aggressive behavior in the long-term.

One of the Key Points of the study shows that NO study has found that physical punishment enhances  developmental health (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p1);  there is no  link between positive behavior and corporeal punishment in the long-run.

The authors reported on a meta-analysis of  studies since 1990 published in 2002 and conducted their own analysis to date and discovered no study – regardless of the sample size, or age of child – has been able to establish positive associations with physical discipline, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).

This is telling because from an anecdotal perspective spanking and hitting as a disciplinary tool are very common. Writing from my observations in my practice and the parents I know socially, I would estimate that over 75 percent use physical punishment and spanking to discipline their children; other polls have quoted 80 percent (Time, 2.6.2012, online).

In my experience, when talking with parents about this subject, individuals who were physically punished offer information about how they feel it was good for them; identifying specific skills they learned as a result.

However, upon examination what becomes more clear is that their learning was a result of them applying their own mindfulness to the situation to make sense out of the hitting, NOT as a result of some direct teaching or correlation connected to the physical punishment.  Most of these individuals express that although they will use physical punishment they will not do it to the extent their parents did; and those that use it state they feel their child understands why they are being punished.

One of the researchers and lead author of the report, Joan Durrant a Child Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Family Studies at the University of Manitoba, cited the issue in the U.S. of physical punishment being an integral part of the culture, a rare instance when an individual was raised without it, which makes it second nature to use physical punishment and feels out of the norm to raise a child without it, Fox News Health, 2.7.2012.

She also discerned that a big component of this style of parenting is that parents may be unaware of basic child development and may then inaccurately assess their child as being defiant or intentionally bad rather than simply acting in various ways that are consistent with normal child development, (Fox News Health, 2.7.2012).

According to an article in (Time, 2.6.2012)  about this specific study Durrant reports the most effective way to assist your children is through educating them about what they are doing that isn’t acceptable or appropriate she used the following example:

A young toddler who upends her cereal bowl on her head probably isn’t being ornery; she’s just curious to see what will happen. Durrant likes to use her son as an example. When he was 3, he dropped his dad’s toothbrush into the toilet. Another parent might have yelled, but Durrant’s academic background helped her realize that he was just experimenting: he dropped objects into water floating in sinks and bathtubs with nary a scolding; why not toilets too? “I explained what goes into toilets and then said, Do you think Daddy is going to want to put that toothbrush in his mouth now?” Message transmitted with no yelling.  (or spanking – my addition).

She is talking about Mindfulness.  Mindfulness incorporates an understanding about your child’s temperament and child development.  Recognizing the basic nature of children is curiosity and exploring their environment, that children are dealing with power issues and trying to understand how things work in relationship and in their environment, and they go through a spiraling developmental system where they have skills that then get reworked and lost as they develop their gross motor activities, fine motor activities and their inner cognitive systems, learning through modeling from the world around them, (Gesell Institute of Child Development, Ames and Ilg, 1979; Erik Erikson, Childhood and Society, 1960)

This study is good news for those of us who have been disciplining through mindfulness and dovetails very closely with the information presented in my book, Turning NO to ON:  The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness (8.14.2011).

It supports the instinctive sense that discipline is a function of knowing, understanding and teaching your child.  Durrant states in the article ”  Effective discipline rests on clear and appropriate expectations, effectively communicated within a trusting relationship and a safe environment”, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p4).

Discipline is an equation of knowing and understanding your child’s temperament and developmental stage + knowing and understanding his emotional and intellectual capacity + knowing and understanding your own temperament and emotional capacity + guiding toward a recognized set of goals + and knowing what you are trying to teach, when.  It is most effective when mindfulness is applied to this multi-faceted equation to get the most effective long-term results.

Reactivity can create problems with this equation in parenting and if your history is that you were spanked or hit as a child then you will have a reactivity to do just that.

In reality if you hit or spank a child to stop their behavior you will stop it for that immediate moment, but you are probably not teaching them what you think you are.

You may think you are teaching them to control themselves, think things through or have good manners but you are modeling something completely different.

You are modeling the opposite – not thinking things through not controlling yourself.

In fact you are modeling that hitting is a solution.  That hitting is a way to get control over another person.  That people in power can make others do things.  I know for many parents that sounds reasonable but if you just look at the long-term effects you can see how this is creating an environment for aggressive behavior, bullying and in some instances domestic violence among adults, low-self esteem and a lack of an internal locus of control – knowing what is right from an inner understanding cognitively with an ability to direct ones own course in life.

The article clarified information that children who are spanked may feel depressed and devalued, and their sense of self-worth can suffer… and physical punishment is a risk factor for child aggression and antisocial behavior, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).   It also identified studies which show researchers have found that physical punishment is linked to slower cognitive development and adversely affects academic achievement, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).  Through their analysis of  previous studies, other links identified show up later in life: mental – health problems including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, these may be mediated by disruptions of the parent-child attachment resulted  from pain inflicted by the caregiver, by increased levels of cortisol, or by chemical disruption of the brain’s mechanism for regulating stress, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).  

To avoid some of these devastating side-effects to spanking it seems wiser to utilize more effective ways to discipline that don’t promote the development of aggressive behavior, wreak self-esteem, and encourage antisocial behavior.

The most effective way to discipline is to utilize positive techniques of teaching and guiding.  The use of time-outs as a way of teaching your child to think through situations and communicate his needs and to help diffuse a negative situation, loss of privileges as a way of teaching connections, and increasing your communication with your child so that you can understand and guide him are all ways to discipline in a positive and educational way.

Mindfulness is a tool that you can use to structure your parenting to assist you and your child.  Remember to focus on how to be responsive rather than reactive and to identify the whole of what is going on to assist your child in developing self-control, thinking skills, and proper acceptable behavior.

Durant and Ensom identify as a Key Point in the article “A professional consensus is emerging that parents should be supported in learning non-violent, effective approaches to discipline”, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p1).

You can check out the information presented here through the sites identified in the article or the references below.

See you tomorrow.



Ames, Louise Bates & Ilg, Francis L.; Your Five-Year Old, Sunny ans Serene.  New York City, New York:  Dell Publishing Group:  1979.

Durrant, Joan and Ensom, Ron; Physical punishment of children: lessons from 20 years of research, CMAJ; cmaj .101314 v1; published ahead of print February 6, 2012, doi:10.1503/cmaj.101314 v1.

Erikson, Erik H.; Childhood and Society, Second Edition.  New York City, New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, inc:  1963.

Gineris, Beth; Turning NO to ON:  The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness.  Charleston, South Carolina:  CreateSpace Printing:  2011.